Instructional Strategies: Daily Review & Warm-Up

Instructor: Derek Hughes
Starting a class period with a short review and warm-up activity can have many benefits for student learning. This lesson describes these benefits and some ways you can successfully incorporate these strategies.

Starting Off Right

If you have any teaching experience (or really have been in any classroom ever), you know the first few minutes of a new period can be hectic and stressful. As students enter the room, they are probably coming from a hallway where they were just talking with their friends. They might still be trying to continue conversations while walking into the classroom. When the bell rings, chances are they won't immediately quiet down.

This is one of the reasons using a daily review and/or warm-up activity is so important for the beginning of a class period. A daily review is a short (3-5 minutes) session in which you and students recall information learned in the previous class. A warm-up activity is a short (again, 3-5 minutes) that students complete as they get settled into class. Let's take a closer look at these instructional strategies.

Daily Review

Picture yourself in your high school chemistry class. Chemistry is a complex, highly technical subject in which you learn a lot of new words and concepts that you have never seen before. One day you might learn about balancing chemical formulas and the next you might have to apply that concept to a more complex problem.

Now imagine that you learned each topic in chemistry only once. Your teacher introduced it, taught it, and you practiced and then never saw it again until the test. If that sounds stressful, then you probably already understand the need for a daily review. During a daily review, students and their teacher spend a short amount of time recalling what they learned the last time they met.

A daily review can take many forms, such as:

  • Short teacher presentation
  • Short ungraded quiz
  • Quick update of a study guide

A short teacher presentation includes only the most important information that students need to recall. The daily review can also take the form of a short, ungraded quiz that determines what information students recall from the previous period or what needs to be retaught.

A more long-term, daily review strategy (that can become a weekly and even monthly review) that you might use is a comprehensive study guide that students update every day. For example, you might create a packet that is organized according to date and key topic. As students come into class, they take out the packets and fill in the section pertaining to the previous day. This strategy not only helps students review information, it also allows them to see how their learning builds on itself and gives them a study guide for an upcoming test.

Warm-Up Activity

Warm-up activities also take many forms, such as:

  • Daily practice sheet
  • Question of the day
  • Journal writing

Let's take a look at how each of these warm-up activities is used.

Mr. Park is a 7th grade math teacher who uses daily practice sheets as a warm-up activity. Every day, his students come into his classroom at the beginning of their math period, grab a paper from a clearly labelled bin, and immediately get to work. This might sound like a small miracle, but it actually shows how effective using warm-up activities can be.

The students in Mr. Park's class have been trained and taught to come in and get to work on their daily practice sheets right away because they will only have a few minutes to finish before Mr. Park collects them to be checked. This is just one example of a wide variety of ways you can incorporate warm-up activities into your classes.

Another useful warm-up activity is called the 'question of the day'. This is a simple, short question that you post or write for the class to see when they walk in. Students answer this question in a notebook or on a specified piece of paper and then discuss their answers as a class after a few minutes. The question can either relate to previously learned material or can serve as an introduction to something new.

For elementary students, warm-up activities might look different, especially if they are not moving to different rooms throughout the day. Instead of being used as new students enter the room, warm-up activities can be used to transition from one subject or activity to another. Journal writing is a useful warm-up activity for elementary school, as it focuses students on an independent activity as you prepare for what comes next.

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